My aim still is to win a Major: Anirban Lahiri
Ace Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri has shifted to Dubai from the United States of America after joining LIV Golf in August
Right now, there is no place Anirban Lahiri would rather be but home. And he is enjoying every second of it, months after moving to LIV Golf, shifting out of his United States residence and starting a new life in Dubai. So much so that even after 18 holes for the SSP Chawrasia Invitational at the Royal Calcutta Golf Course (RCGC), Lahiri was happy to conduct a clinic for kids, amateurs and professionals, who lapped up every anecdote, lesson and trick he shared for over an hour. He then spoke to Hindustan Times in an interview. Excerpts:
How would you like to sum up the year gone by?
The only thing missing is a win. It would be nice if I can get that tomorrow, even though it won’t be on the tours that I like. But it’s been a very rewarding year. I have had some very good events. It’s been a life-changing year, moving out of America, moving to LIV Golf, some big decisions have been made and a lot of good golf has been played in between. I’m very blessed, coming off my second child, 2022 has been great.
Going back to your second-place finish at The Players Championship, did you really think at that juncture you would be moving to LIV?
No. One of the things I have learnt from my life is you have to stay in the present as much as possible. The Players always stands out but the week before that I had a terrible finish. Three weeks before I had missed three cuts in a row. As golfers you learn the hard way to just stay in the moment, in the present, just work on what you need to do next. After The Players Championship, my focus was to just relax and then go to the next event and just let life happen in between. So, when the opportunity came along, I had a long chat with my family, my core team and we decided to make the decision. At that point in time, it was 'okay what do we do next?'. It’s always one step at a time, no point getting ahead.
You have said that striking a work-life balance was one of the reasons behind moving to LIV. How much of that has happened?
A lot has already happened. The media in the west made a mockery out of players talking about work-life balance. But I would like all of them to take a look at our lives in the last three months. We have already moved to Dubai, and here in India. I’m flying to Dubai on Monday, and then back to Pune to be with my wife and in-laws the following Monday. Would I be able to do it if I was in the US? No. Is that a better work-life balance? Personally, yes! We are walking the walk and talking the talk, not making claims or saying things we have been asked to do. And I always try to lead my life by action and less words. So definitely, there’s been a big change already in work-life balance. The family feels happier to be closer to home. We have a lot of close friends in Dubai. It doesn’t feel like we have moved countries. Instead, it feels like we have plugged into a good support system that already existed. So personally, I’m very happy with where I find myself.
Back of your mind, were you wary that this decision could backfire?
You go into everything with your eyes open. You consider the pros, cons, eventualities, and then you make the best decision in that moment for you and everybody connected with you. I have made a lot of difficult decisions in life, a lot of decisions that other people have questioned. Once I have made the decision, I have to back myself. And the reasons behind making those decisions.
How are you recalibrating your career and life now?
My aim still is to win a Major. How I get into them, I will find out what my pathways are. The world of golf is in so much flux, no one really knows. But if I have to qualify for the Open or the US Open, I will. As far as world rankings are concerned, I don’t know where the penny is going to drop as far as LIV is concerned. But when I wake up every morning, I am still trying to be a better person and a better golfer. I am still working hard, if not harder, than I have before because there is less room on a tour like LIV. There are only 48 cards, not 125 cards like the PGA. So my commitment to my profession and personal ambitions is the same. I don’t aspire for anything less. Nothing changes for me personally. Everybody else from the outside looks in and says ‘oh these guys are probably just relaxing”. No, come live a day in my shoes and then ask yourself that question.
But you definitely seem happier…
100%. Way happier. Very happy to be around friends like family. And home. Coming back to India is always fun. The golf world is one big family also. So, when I’m here, I feel at home. Some of my friends, even some of the youngsters who I have never met, all these things are important to me. So why should I not be able to do that? Now, I can. It’s been the right decision.